Old School Tie

Entry by: jaguar

7th July 2015

‘So what year did you leave Gordoncroft?’ Davina kept her voice high and her eyes were locked on George’s soft face. She wanted to see if he reacted to her question. Most of her conversations were body language based nowadays. People seldom had anything to say to her verbally.

‘1985.’ He yawned as his gaze twisted away to escape from hers. The blue of his eyes was an exact match for the Gordoncroft school tie. Perhaps that was why he chose to claim he went to that particular school. Davina suspected George hadn’t actually been there at all. Just another idiot who thought it would open doors.

When she thought of her time there a series of doors swung shut in her mind. Trapdoors with her always on the wrong side. Boys giggling like girls and being bullied until they became smaller and smaller. They shrunk in on themselves until they were nothing at all. The ghost of a giggle, stopped in the night.

‘Same year as me. It’s odd that I don’t know you. Do you remember me?’ She steeled herself as George scrutinized her face. She’d checked her reflection so many times but there was something missing in her taste. A sort of lacuna, a guide to knowing what went together well. Other women just lashed on cheap lipstick and looked fantastic. Davina was plastered in expensive make-up she'd been taught to apply but she still worried about facial hair.

Why was she concerned about this conman’s opinion? It seemed he was his own creation, just as she was. At least she hadn’t lied about her background but she hadn’t had to. George had shown no interest in her at all. Yet he was still staring at her now, as if he recognised her features but didn’t know her.

‘There is something familiar about you.’ He leant closer. ‘I assume you were St. Mary’s?’

At least he'd researched the School House names. But how much did George really know? ‘St. Mary’s? No. I was St. John’s.’ Davina indicated George’s empty glass. In a long, elegant step she took it from him and strode off towards the bar. St. Mary’s was the girls house. St. John’s was all boys. Let George put that in his pipe and smoke it.

Were people staring at her? She concentrated on walking straight-legged from the hip the way the movement coach had taught her. Did it make her bottom sway too much? Walking as if she was proud, rather than mortified, with her face on fire again. Davina stopped as Emma, her old school-friend and today's hostess, bore down on her.

‘I see you’ve found another old Gordoncrofter in George. I thought you’d have a lot in common.’ Davina twisted her mouth in a silent reply. Why was Emma going along with George's lie? Davina sometimes thought Emma pretended to be her friend because it made her seem tolerant and right-on. Yet Emma's arm around her shoulders, her way of drawing people in, felt genuinely warm right now.

‘Are you all right, Dav? He can be a bit much, can’t he? But such fun.’

Perhaps no one was fun with Davina. Perhaps there was a tension inside her that sucked all the joy out of other people. Her self-fulfilling habit of expecting the worst in people, defending before the attack. She leant across the bar like a man would, beyond caring, and demanded service with her eyes. That was the first thing she’d noticed about becoming a woman. How often you were ignored in bars.

Oh, and all the other examples of the arbitrary bias of an inequitable world. Not much of a topic for conversation for North London parties. No wonder she was always alone. She was hardly an advert for the old boy network. How ghettoized her existence now was. She could almost forget that right at the back of her underwear drawer was the same school tie George wore. It was rightfully hers but it was never a card she could play.

What would it feel like to be part of a group of like-minded people? Maybe it was time to realise that her old longing to find someone similar to her was just a dream. There wasn’t anybody on a parallel path, let alone feeling their way along her chosen route. There wasn’t a cypher to help her make sense of her life. All she had was an over-powering sense of injustice. That someone, somewhere had got it terribly wrong. That everything she'd done to try and distil her essence was pointless, she'd never find the key.

She jumped as George coughed next to her and held his hand out for his drink. His hands were much smaller than hers. There were some things you could never change. Davina looked up and caught his blue gaze, their eyes exactly level. True blue, she knew him now, someone who'd been on her journey but coming the other way. She matched the force of his grin before they started to laugh.

‘I think we might have a lot to talk about, Davina. I remember you now. You could have helped me out by saying you used to be called John. I know exactly why you didn't because I didn't tell you either. Do you remember me too? Back in the day I was a girl called Sally.'